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Diarrhoea – Types, Symptoms, Causes, Risk factors and more

DIARRHOEA

What is diarrhoea?

What is Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is defined as having three or more loose or liquid faeces episodes in a single day more frequently than usual. Due to Diarrhoea, you will notice an increase in the volume, wateriness of faeces or frequency of your bowel motions.

Diarrhoea can occur for multiple reasons and naturally disappear in one to five days. You may also experience problems like bloating, lower abdominal discomfort and nausea.

The majority of instances of Diarrhoea last for a certain amount of time and can occasionally result in serious problems. Some of the major side effects of Diarrhoea include electrolyte imbalance, dehydration and renal failure.  

During Diarrhoea, your body water and electrolytes are lost along with stool. To replace what you’ve lost, drink plenty of water and never allow your body to get dehydrated again.  

Types of Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is classified into different types based on the condition and severity of the patient:

Acute Diarrhoea  

Acute Diarrhoea is characterised by loose and watery Diarrhoea that may last one to five days. This type of Diarrhoea does not require treatment and resolves typically within a few days. Acute Diarrhoea contains faeces with a higher volume of water.

Persistent Diarrhoea  

Persistent Diarrhoea usually lasts for a few weeks (maximum two to four weeks). Persistent Diarrhoea is becoming recognised as a major child health issue in underdeveloped nations. However, it is receiving less attention than acute Diarrhoea in terms of control and prevention.  

Chronic Diarrhoea  

Chronic Diarrhoea is described as the passing of loose or watery stools that has a sensation of abdominal discomfort for more than four weeks.  

Celiac disease, microscopic colitis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and small intestinal

l overgrowth are some of the additional reasons for the existence of chronic Diarrhoea.

Apart from this, it can also show symptoms including bloating, stomach cramping and nausea.

Symptoms of Diarrhoea  

Symptoms of Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea shows up with multiple symptoms. Some of the notable symptoms of Diarrhoea include:  

Fever  

Fever is the first symptom to show up in the body when you are diagnosed with Diarrhoea. Complete body rest is the only solution to help you recover from the fever.

Weight loss

Diarrhoea is mostly caused by bacterial infections or stress and may last for several days. It can be harmful if it lasts for weeks or more since it causes the body to lose fluids. People with Diarrhoea can lose a lot of weight, but it is mostly water weight.

Dehydration 

Anyone can become dehydrated, but infants and children are more vulnerable to dehydration when they endure severe Diarrhoea and vomiting.

Severe pain  

Diarrhoea may be accompanied by abdominal pain or cramps. Food sensitivities, bacterial or viral illnesses and alcohol usage are all common reasons for the cause of pain. Sometimes, severe pain can also be replaced by irritable bowel syndrome.  

Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided to recover from bowel problems. However, you can gradually introduce semisolid and low-fibre foods.

Vomiting  

Vomiting and Diarrhoea are frequent symptoms in children and adults of all ages.

These two symptoms are usually caused by a stomach bug or food poisoning, and they go away in a few days. The therapy requires some relaxation and lots of drinks to avoid dehydration.  

Blood

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) may be the cause of bloody Diarrhoea that may last for weeks and also causes weight loss. This long-term illness causes inflammation in the digestive tract.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is divided into two types: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Causes of Diarrhoea

Some of the preliminary signs and symptoms associated with Diarrhoea include:

Infection by bacteria 

Bacterial gastroenteritis is a bacteria-caused intestinal disorder. In this case, you may see some early symptoms like fever, Diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and pain. You may become dehydrated and electrolyte imbalanced in severe circumstances. In such cases, antibiotics are used to treat bacterial gastroenteritis.

Infections by other organisms  

The two most prevalent etiological agents of moderate-to-severe Diarrhoea are rotavirus and Escherichia coli. Cryptosporidium and Shigella species are the other two diseases that may cause complications related to Diarrhoea.

Eating foods that upset the digestive system  

The human body is very good at detecting when it has eaten something bad. Your body will most likely try to remove the harmful food as soon as it senses it. This can result in Diarrhoea or vomiting within an hour to several weeks of ingesting the contaminated food.

Allergies  

Hives, throat tightening, congestion and itchy skin can all be symptoms of food allergies. Diarrhoea can also be caused by malabsorption. This condition occurs when the small intestine is unable to absorb nutrients from food.  

Medications for Diarrhoea

If you have Diarrhoea, certain over-the-counter drugs can help you feel better. These drugs are referred to as anti-diarrhoeal medications. Loperamide is an antidiarrhoea medication. An upset stomach can also be treated with bismuth subsalicylate.

Radiation therapy  

Radiation to the stomach or abdomen might result in loose stools and Diarrhoea.  

Radiation therapy results in Diarrhoea over time. Therapy-related Diarrhoea can sometimes linger for weeks or months after treatment has ended.

This destroys or prevents cancer cells from growing in the treated area. When the colon is damaged in the treated area, it might cause urgency (needing to go right away), incontinence (inability to contain your bowels) and Diarrhoea.

Radiation enteritis is the medical term for these gastrointestinal problems. It can occur months or years after radiation treatment and is a long-term issue.

Malabsorption of food  

When you eat a nutritious meal, you anticipate your body to benefit from the vitamins and minerals you consume. If you face malabsorption syndrome, your body will strive to absorb high content nutrients from your meals, thereby causing malabsorption symptoms like bloating and Diarrhoea.

Treatments of Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea usually clears up on its own after a few days without medication. Your doctor may prescribe drugs or other therapies after examining your condition of Diarrhoea.

Antibiotics  

Antibiotic treatment lowers the severity of symptoms and length of sickness. Azithromycin is currently the preferred antibiotic for the treatment of acute watery Diarrhoea, febrile Diarrhoea and dysentery.  

Some antibiotics like ciprofloxacin, shigella and levofloxacin are also becoming options for treating acute watery Diarrhoea and febrile Diarrhoea. However, they are less effective due to rising fluoroquinolone resistance.

Medication for a specific condition

Heartburn medications sold over the counter (OTC) might induce Diarrhoea. It is because they contain magnesium and calcium.

A proton pump inhibitor is recommended in cases where you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you have an ulcer, you may also need to take a PPI. Although it is uncommon, some patients who take these medicines may face Diarrhoea.

Some people get it because of the presence of Clostridium difficile, a dangerous bacterial infection.  

PPIs are widely available for OTC prescription. These include:

  • Rabeprazole  
  • Pantoprazole
  • Esomeprazole  
  • Lansoprazole  
  • Dex lansoprazole  
  • Omeprazole

Probiotics 

Probiotics are nothing but live bacteria that are consumed or administered to the body to provide health advantages. Probiotics can often be seen in yoghurt, dietary supplements and other fermented foods.

Although bacteria and other microbes are commonly considered destructive germs, many are beneficial. Some bacteria aid in digestion and the production of vitamins. Many bacteria found in probiotic supplements are naturally the same as those found in our bodies.

There are myriad varieties of probiotics, but studies show that supplementing a few of them is the most effective way to treat Diarrhoea.

The following probiotics are by far the most effective for treating Diarrhoea:

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG(LGG)

This probiotic strain is a highly recommended probiotic for Diarrhoea. LGG is one of the effective probiotics for treating Diarrhoea in both adults and children.

Saccharomyces boulardii 

Saccharomyces boulardii is a healthy yeast strain that’s typically found in most probiotic supplements. This probiotic medication has been proven to help with antibiotic-related Diarrhoea.

Bifidobacterium lactis

This probiotic contains immune-boosting and gut-protective properties, and it may help children’s Diarrhoea be less severe.

Lactobacillus case

Another probiotic strain that has been researched for its anti-diarrheal properties is Lactobacillus casei. According to some research, it can help children and adults with antibiotic-associated Diarrhoea.

When to see a doctor?

Doctor interacting with patients

Severe Diarrhoea leads to dehydration, which can be fatal if left untreated. Children, elders and individuals with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to dehydration.

Promptly get a doctor’s treatment If your child exhibits the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea that persists for more than 24 hours
  • Stools that are bloody or black
  • Cries without tears or a dry mouth or tongue
  • Sleepy, drowsy, unresponsive or irritated in an unusual way
  • Three hours or more without a wet diaper
  • A fever of greater than 102 Fahrenheit (39 C)
  • The abdomen, eyes, or cheekbones appear sunken
  • Pinched and released skin that does not flatten

Risk factors of Diarrhoea  

Getting in contact with infected surfaces, bacteria, viruses and parasites causes Diarrhoea and stomach flu. This is known as the faecal-oral route in medicine.  

Wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom, and change your child’s diapers to lower hygiene risk. It is always recommended to use alcohol-based hand gel for a clean hand wash.

Only drink bottled water or purified water when travelling to locations where there is a greater danger of contaminated water and food.

Here are some of the risk factors that can cause Diarrhoea:

  • Poor hygiene practices  
  • Poor sanitation  
  • Poor access to clean  
  • Food insecurity  
  • Poor nutritional status  

Prevention of Diarrhoea  

Avoiding contact with infectious agents that can cause Diarrhoea is the most important thing to follow to protect yourself from Diarrhoea. This implies that proper handwashing and hygiene are essential to avoid Diarrhoea.  

However, you can also take the following precautions:

Handwash frequently  

Hand washing reduces Diarrhoea occurrences by about 30% in both children and adults. Therefore, proper handwashing is mandatory to protect yourself from complications such as Diarrhoea and stomach aches.

Lather with soap for at least 20 seconds  

Friction formed in lathering and scrubbing hands helps to remove dirt, grease and bacteria off the skin. Because microbes can be found in all areas of the hand, especially under the nails, hence, the entire hand should be washed.

Use hand sanitiser  

Rub your hands together with a small drop of hand sanitiser, covering all surfaces of your hands and in between fingers as well.  

Summing up

The most prevalent causes of Diarrhoea are viral and bacterial illnesses. Diarrhoea can also be caused by food intolerances, pharmaceutical side effects and underlying chronic diseases.

Diarrhoea is commonly caused by a short-term infection. Chronic illness is also possible.

You should consult a doctor if your symptoms last longer than two days. If a child in your care is experiencing Diarrhoea symptoms, seek medical help promptly.

FAQ’s

1.How long should I be off if I have Diarrhoea?

Make sure to take a rest for at least 24 hours after the last episode of Diarrhoea. Take medications such as loperamide to prevent further spreading of the infection.

2.How is dehydration treated?

Dehydration is treated by replacing lost electrolytes and fluids. Taking an oral rehydration solution and treating the underlying cause of fluid loss is the quickest approach to recovering from dehydration.

3.Should I eat if I have Diarrhoea?

It’s critical to stay hydrated during this time because Diarrhoea might dehydrate you. When a person is ready to eat, they should start with simple meals like bananas or rice. Stomach cramps and a high temperature are further signs of Diarrhoea.

4.What types of foods are good during Diarrhoea?  

You can eat high potassium-rich foods like bananas, apples, citrus fruits, pineapples and grapes.

5.How should I safeguard myself from getting dehydrated?  

Effective tips that help you to protect against dehydration:
1. Drink plenty of water
2. Do not skip your food
3. Eat high water content fruits
4. Do not roam in the scorching sun

6.Why do people get Diarrhoea when they are nervous?

The body releases hormones and substances when a person is worried. These can get into the digestive tract and upset the gut flora, causing a chemical imbalance and Diarrhoea.

7.What is the fastest way to stop Diarrhoea?

You can fastly stop Diarrhoea by consuming OTC medications such as Imodium, Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol

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